OKC Thunder: Gilgeous-Alexander in our top 5 for proposed H-O-R-S-E match

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder shoots over Cory Joseph #9 of the Sacramento Kings . (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder shoots over Cory Joseph #9 of the Sacramento Kings . (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes our top five list for players who should participate in the proposed televised H-O-R-S-E competition

With fans and players antsy for a return of the NBA season the league and ESPN have hatched out a proposed televised H-O-R-S-E competition.  ESPN writer Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news of the plan. Kevin Durant won the event in consecutive seasons while he was still a member of the OKC Thunder.

The challenge took place during All-Star Weekends in 2009 and 2010 in Phoenix and Dallas respectively. In his first win, Durant beat out challengers Joe Johnson and O. J. Mayo. The trophy as some might recall looked like a plastic horse.

K.D. defended his title by beating Omri Casspi and Rajon Rondo in 2010. While the competition is widely known for the equine name because Geico Insurance was a sponsor of the All-Star Game they used G-E-I-C-O instead. The second match required a sudden death 3-point shoot out by Durant and Rondo to determine the winner. Shockingly, Rondo who isn’t known for his perimeter prowess hung in for quite a few rounds before succumbing to K.D.

This wasn’t the first H-O-R-S-E competition the league held. During the 1977-78 campaign, the association had 32 players participate with matches running throughout the season and postseason. The two finalists were Paul Westphal and Piston Pete Maravich but due to injury, Maravich couldn’t participate in the final match. Rick Barry subbed in for the enigmatic point guard eventually losing to Westphal.

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For those who remember the Billy Jean King – Bobby Riggs battle of the sexes tennis match, there was a similar event undertaken in 1975 by the NBA with Karen Logan. She beat Jerry West but lost to Oscar Robertson. The details on this event are a bit sketchy, however, the rules must’ve been different since Logan was ahead 7-0 on the Big O. Obviously it takes only five letters to spell out H-O-R-S-E, so the fact she lost 10-8 to Robertson is curious.

For those unfamiliar with H-O-R-S-E, it’s a competition where players take turns hitting crazy shots either of the long-distance variety, circus shots or unconventional shots. The other participants must emulate the shot and if unsuccessful collect a letter each time they miss.

Typically dunks are not allowed and there is a time limit enforced.

With the two titles, it will be interesting if Durant is a participant. The Nets have stuck by their statement KD will not return this season and even though this is for entertainment you have to believe the franchise wouldn’t want their superstar risking injury.

Our top 5 picks to participate (including an OKC Thunder player):

No doubt Trae Young will want to be involved since he seems to be the thirstiest player when it comes to exposure (sorry — just calling it like I see it). He doesn’t make the list, by virtue of him having participated in virtually every event and already getting ample exposure.

Plus, the fact there are two other players who can hit from range and would be fun to watch for everything else they can do on the hardwood.

NBA players who would make the most sense to participate are rookie Ja Morant and Stephen Curry.

Morant wouldn’t be able to dunk if they keep the normal rules although his dunks are jawdropping. Still, it would be hard not to pick him as the favorite considering the types of moves he’s capable of delivering. For example, check out the back-to-back moves versus the Jazz and Hornets in the video above (starting at 2:15).

Curry’s ball-handling ability and his “tunnel shot” long-distance range make him another top candidate. Likewise, Damian Lillard‘s efficiency from deep is unparalleled  – – even more so than Curry.

Pascal Siakam‘s ability to use either hand and his spin moves could make him a good choice.

As for the OKC Thunder, either of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Chris Paul would be great options given their ball-handling skills and range on the court.

Like Morant, Gilgeous-Alexander has dexterity, a mix of scoop shots and makes the most difficult shots look simple.

Because players could perform the competition in their own driveways, back yards or home courts it removes the need to have players in the same location.

The participants could tape themselves, in the same manner, they are sending out social media videos although its more likely ESPN would coordinate with some sort of filming equipment for those involved.

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Who do you think will make the cut and more importantly who would you like to see involved? Let us know in the comments section.